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COVID-19 - info for the public

The Aboriginal Health Council South Australia endorses the Australian public health position on COVID-19 vaccination.

What causes COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the infection caused by a coronavirus called SARS CoV2 and is part of a large family of viruses which cause respiratory infections. SARS CoV-2 originated in China in 2019 and spread across the world including Australia in January 2020.  

How is the virus spread?

If you get a COVID-19 infection, there will be a lot of the virus in our nose and throat, which can be spread easily to other people by coughing, sneezing, sharing things like cups, smoking, singing or even talking.  

If we are physically close to someone who has COVID-19 (within a couple of metres), we can breathe the virus in. Not only this, but we can also catch the virus by touching objects that someone with COVID-19 has already touched, like a door handle or table, and then touching our face.  

How would I feel if I had COVID-19?

The symptoms of COVID-19 are different for everyone. Some of us only get a runny nose and other people get very sick with a lung infection and can even have to go to hospital and in some cases, may die from the virus. Some people are only sick for a day or two, and others are sick for a long time.

The common symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Respiratory symptoms
    • Coughing
    • Sore throat
    • Shortness of breath
    • Runny or blocked nose
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint aches and pains
  • Diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Loss of smell
  • Food might taste different
  • You may not feel hungry
  • Fatigue

How sick can I get from COVID-19?

Some people will only have a mild form of the virus and other people will get very sick and need to be in hospital. We are more likely to need to be in a hospital if we have chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes, or are older than 50 years of age. 

If you feel very unwell, such as having chest pain or difficulty breathing, then call 000 for an ambulance. 

How can I stop the spread?

There are a lot of ways to reduce the spread of the virus, including:

  • Keeping physically apart (at least 1.5 metres away) from people who are not normally living with us 
  • Staying home if you are unwell, except to go and get tested for COVID-19 
  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitiser 
  • Coughing or sneezing into your elbow 
  • Getting vaccinated as soon as possible 
  • Wearing a face mask outside the home if you can’t keep 1.5 metres away from people, in all health care settings and on public transport 
  • Stay home if you are unwell
  • Wipe down surfaces that have been used or touched
  • More information about protecting yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19 here. 

When should I get tested for COVID 19?

You should get tested for COVID-19 if:

  • You have symptoms of the illness — even if your symptoms are mild; or
  • You have recovered from COVID-19 and develop new symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of how long ago; or
  • You have been advised to do so by a health professional

If you are at high risk of developing severe COVID you should contact your health care provider about getting a PCR for COVID and other viruses.

What should I do if I return a positive COVID-19 test?

If you return a positive COVID-19 test, remember that it is normal to feel worried or scared. There are plenty of resources available that can guide you on what to do.

SA Health has put together some very important information to help guide those who are COVID-positive, that you can find here.

COVID-19 positive again?

Just like other illnesses, COVID-19 can be caught more than once. Oral treatments can be taken as many times as needed if you're at high-risk of serious illness. Speak to a GP today to find out if you're eligible.

Find more about access and eligibility here.

Updated eligibility for oral COVID-19 treatments

Most cases of COVID-19 are mild and can be managed at home. Some people who are at higher risk may need specific antiviral treatments prescribed by their healthcare provider.

Learn about who is eligible for COVID-19 treatments here.

What does being a close contact mean?

  • Close contact includes living with or having spent a lot of time indoors with someone with COVID-19.  
  • People with COVID-19 are considered infectious two days before their symptoms started, or two days before their positive COVID-19 test was taken if they have no noticeable symptoms. 
  • If you have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you are at an increased risk of getting COVID-19. 

You can find out what to do if this is you, at the SA Health website link here.

For more information about accessing RATs and support to register a positive result, you can call1300 232 272

COVID-19 Variants

All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, change over time. Most changes have little to no impact on how the virus behaves. However, some changes may affect the virus, such as how easily it spreads, effectiveness of vaccines, and how sick people get.  SARS CoV-2 has changed a few times since the pandemic started and they have been named after letters of the Greek alphabet, for example alpha, beta, gamma.

In Australia and many other countries, genomic sequencing is being used to identify variants of concern (for example, in travellers returning from overseas), so that public health authorities can put measures in place to prevent any spread into the community.  See link for further details: (https://www.cdgn.org.au/variants-of-concern)

What is isolation?

Isolation is when someone who is sick or tested positive for COVID-19 stays away from others, even in their own home. 

If you test positive for COVID-19, you will need to isolate away from family and friends.  

During your isolation period, you might need to have friends or family who don't live with you, drop off food and medicines to your doorstep. 

What is the COVID-19 test and where can I get tested?

The test for COVID-19 is a swab. The swab goes at the back of the throat and then up the nose to find any virus that might be there. It can feel a bit uncomfortable but should not hurt.  

If you have a PCR test you will usually receive your results via text within a day or two. You need to stay isolated and away from other people until you get your test result. 

Find your closest SA Pathology testing site.

Another common type of test is a RAT or Rapid Antigen Test and you can do this at home with a result in 15 minutes. In South Australia, if you test positive on a Rapid Antigen Test, in most cases you do not need to get a PCR test to confirm this result. You are considered to be a case of COVID 19. However, if you have had a positive RAT test and this was unexpected (that is, if you have no symptoms or you are not a close contact), then it is still suggested that you get a PCR test to confirm the positive RAT result

You can find out more about Rapid Antigen Tests here.

Sometimes if the result is urgent, it is very difficult for the person to isolate or are living remotely, A Point of Care Test may also be possible. 

You can find out where you can access a RAT across South Australia here: SA Health Website - Rapid Antigen Test webpage.

How should I clean my house after having COVID-19?

The COVID-19 Virus dies quickly on most surfaces. But, once you have recovered from being sick, it’s a good idea to clean the surfaces in your house like kitchen benches, kitchen tables, bathroom sinks and toilets as well as washing your bedding.

Here are some things you can do to make sure that your home is rid of any left over COVID-19 germs:

  • If you can, wear waterproof dishwashing gloves while you clean.
  • Use disinfectant to clean; there are many options in your local supermarket.
  • Things like doorknobs, light switches, taps and mobile phones should be disinfected as they are used/touched a lot.
  • Wash all clothes and bedding using the warmest water possible and dry laundry completely. Do not shake dirty laundry into the air as this can spread the virus.
  • Open windows and doors when possible to let fresh air in.
  • Wash all dishes that you used while you were sick.
  • Clean bathrooms and toilets.
  • Put all rubbish in the bin outside.
  • Wash your hands after cleaning and throwing away the rubbish

Some more information about disinfecting the home after COVID-19

What is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?

Cleaning – is done with water, detergent/soap and scrubbing.

Disinfecting – involves chemicals that kill any remaining germs on surfaces.

What is the difference between detergent and disinfectant?

Detergents – remove germs, dirt and grime.

Disinfectants – kill viruses and germs but do not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove the dead germs.

There are two main cleaning and disinfection methods you can use:

Two step – where the area is cleaned with detergent and water and then has a disinfectant applied.

Two in one – where a product is used that cleans and disinfects in one.

More information about disinfectants:

The disinfectant should say on the label it is hospital-grade that kills viruses.

To be safe always read the label before using and follow the instructions for use.  

When using a disinfectant wear gloves if available, keep windows and doors open and leave on the surface you are cleaning for at least 10 minutes before wiping off.

If using household bleach as a disinfectant always dilute it as per the instructions on the bottle.

Testing requirements

The testing requirements in South Australia can be found at the link here